Sunday, 12 May 2013

Chester Street Kitchen - a transformation in the making

It's not too often that you get invited to a behind the scenes look at one of Brisbanes hottest teams putting together a new venture.  This is precisely what happened when the team from Alfred & Constance and Lucid Media invited a contingent of Brisbane food writers in for a breakfast to witness the Chester Street Kitchen redevelopment.

Chester Street Kitchen opened last year and is part of the ever increasing Damien Griffiths empire, which seems to be growing at a rapid rate in the Valley.  Originally a typical cafe, Chester Street Kitchen has been closed while it undergoes a transformation from a basic cafe into bar,  restaurant and bakery, which will have a much wider food offering including a pretty decent bakery!

At the heart of this transformation is an Alan Scott designed wood-fired oven which is a major centrepiece for the cafe.  Listening to the Chester Street Kitchen head baker Phil Agnew talking about the oven is spellbinding.  Phil is one of a handful of specialty bakers in the world that is confident enough (or crazy enough) to bake the specialty bread that will be produced at the Kitchen.

There is no doubt that the wood-fired oven is impressive to look at, if not a little imposing and I asked Phil about some of the obvious scars on his forearms.    After telling us all about the dangers of oven work, Phil proceeded to tell us about a colleague who accidentally leaned his forehead on such an oven and now has a permanent 'worry line' on his head!  The oven itself was only just finished and took over four weeks to construct and will be used not only for bread, but many of the treats that will be on the final menu at the restaurant.

When the Chester Street Kitchen opens up again in June there will be a rich menu offering and we were lucky enough to test out some of the wonderful treats that will grace the menu.  One of the highlights for me was the breakfast pizza, which we watched Daryl Willmott put together while Phil Agnew was explaining how the oven worked.  Some of the other delicious treats tested on the morning included a potato and spinach frittata, brioche and a brie, avocado and tomato relish on sourdough.  While there were some delish treats for us to try, the mainstay of the morning was the fresh bread and the wonderful smell that emanated throughout the shop!

While it was cool to share the morning with some of Brisbanes best bloggers and food writers and to listen to the Chester Street Kitchen story from Alfred & Constance's Jocelyn Hancock, there was a feeling of anticipation about the opening.  The Chester Street Kitchen was taking shape, but it was far from done!  I can't wait to see the finished project and then get in for a decent look.

In the meantime, I will just have to keep dropping over to the Chester Street Kitchen pop up bakery to watch the progress!


**I was a guest of Chester Street Kitchen for this event

The Alan Scott designed oven took around 4 weeks to construct
Making some breakfast pizza
Baker Phil's old oven tool, getting a bit short with a couple of new ones off to the side
Whats left of the breakfast pizza.  It was delicious 
Not much to look at right now, but Damien Griffiths has a rep for developing great spaces
Room for alfresco dining
Time to devour the bread!
And there was a lot of bread!
More bread!
The red cedar burns hot and the drier the wood the hotter the burn
Lots of food bloggers and writers enjoying the morning
Alfred and Constance's Jocelyn Hancock explaining the Chester Street Kitchen story

Chester Street Kitchen on UrbanspoonChester Street Kitchen

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